If you go to a cardiologist and say you don’t feel good, they might check your vitals and give you blood pressure meds. If you talk to a GI doc they might give you some stomach reflux medicine to help. If you see a therapist, they will offer to give you counseling. All of these things may be exactly what you need. But they might not.
If the timing in your car is off the vehicle won’t run smoothly. The timing affects the the rate the spark hits the plugs, and the car may backfire or run rough or overheat. Without knowing it was a timing issue, a mechanic may think it is a thermostat or a fuel problem or something else. If you just address the symptom and not the cause, the problem won’t be fixed. Hence the need for a good diagnostic workup.
This is also true for mental health. Someone who walks into a counselor’s office and says they are depressed doesn’t always have depression. Someone with concentration problems doesn’t necessarily have ADD. There are so many other things that could cause the same symptoms, and just like a car, the systems of the body work together to make it run, and if one system is out of whack, you may see it in another system. For example, someone who is irritable or fatigued may have a blood sugar issue, a thyroid problem or sleep apnea. Someone having bad dreams may be experiencing a side effect of blood pressure medication. If you have a decreased libido it could mean hormones, or depression, or again medication side effect.
It is your counselor’s job to do a full psychosocial history when she meets you. He should ask you what you feel your symptoms and problems are, but she should also ask you about your family health and mental health history. He should know about your sleep and eating habits, your medications, and your substance use. She should know about your past traumas, how you did in school, and your current relationships. Whether you realize it or not, all of these details can help an experienced therapist figure out the cause of your symptoms and create a treatment plan that will help you feel better now and in the future.
I have seen irritability and moodiness be caused by Prednisone. I have seen kids diagnosed ADHD and bed wetting who actually had obstructive sleep apnea caused by tonsils. Fatigue can be Endocrine System, absentmindedness can be medication, a kiddo’s behavior problem could be a learning disabilty or even grief. Sometimes what you see is what you get, but sometimes not.